The Blackwell Companion to Religion and Violence

The Blackwell Companion to Religion and Violence

The Blackwell Companion to Religion and Violence

The Blackwell Companion to Religion and Violence

Synopsis

The timely Blackwell Companion to Religion and Violence brings together an international, interdisciplinary group of scholars who provide a coherent state of the art overview of the complex relationships between religion and violence.
  • This companion tackles one of the most important topics in the field of Religion in the twenty-first century, pulling together a unique collection of cutting-edge work
  • A focused collection of high-quality scholarship provides readers with a state-of-the-art account of the latest work in this field
  • The contributors are broad-ranging, international, and interdisciplinary, and include historians, political scientists, religious studies scholars, sociologists, anthropologists, theologians, scholars of women's and gender studies and communication

Excerpt

Andrew R. Murphy

The relationship between religion and violence – however one defines either of those terms – forms a central part of the political discourse, as well as the lived reality, of modern times. In the summer of 2010, Americans from all corners of the nation passionately debated the propriety of a Muslim cultural center just blocks from the site of the World Trade Center attacks, a debate that revived all the painful memories associated with that event and fed ongoing arguments about whether Islam was a “violent religion” or a “religion of peace.” Daily headlines bring news of violent conflicts in hotspots around the world, many of which are fired by religious rhetoric, while a steady stream of publications by the “New Atheists” denounce the tendency of religions of all kinds toward violence, irrationality, and destruction, in the process spawning a counter-literature even more extensive than the work it arose to contest (Hitchens 2009; Dennett 2006; Harris 2005; McGrath 2010; Haught 2007; Dawkins 2008).

And yet so many important questions go unaddressed in these sensationalized headlines, the charges and countercharges of polarized political debate, and the provocative claims of the New Atheists and their critics. If religion and violence, and their (apparent) close connection are all around us, far more rare are accounts of these two phenomena that do more than scratch the surface or report the most egregious or provocative atrocities committed by believers of various sorts. What do we mean when we speak of “religion” and “violence”? Is all, or most, or even any, of the “religious violence” on display in the headlines really driven by religion, or is religion a convenient rhetorical tool invoked to justify violence sparked by other factors and serving other ends? After all, as part of the social landscape in the twenty-first century – much to the surprise or chagrin of those who envisioned its demise as secularization and modernization swept the globe – religion is just one of a number of phenomena that both shape and are shaped by human beings seeking meaning and value in their daily lives. And so we are led, from this consideration of religion and violence, to explore broader and . . .

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